Why are changes I made not appearing on my website?

Alex Ho -

Introduction

If you have made changes to your website and saved them, you would expect them to be applied. However, sometimes you may find even after refreshing your browser that nothing has changed when you expected to see them.

What is causing this? Why is it like this? In this guide, we will explain what the website cache is and how it is the likely cause as to why changes you made may not show. Fortunately there is a simply way for you to resolve this.

I have made changes to my website but these are not appearing or being applied?

If you’ve worked on your website and made changes, you would normally expect them to appear or be applied in the areas where you made them. For example, if you have published a new staff profile to someone you recently hired.

On occasion you may find you cannot see these changes showing up, even on different website browsers and refreshing your current session, and maybe wondering what is going on.

It’s due to the caching of the website. As changes you made could be new, the browser may not have saved the latest version of the page content. If we go back to the example of a newly published staff profile, that person may not be appearing on the team page due to this change being very recent.

Fortunately you can choose to ‘flush the cache’ should this happen. Before we get to that, it might be worth just briefly explaining what the cache is and how it works.

What is the cache?

If you looked in a dictionary, ‘cache’ can mean a hiding or storage place, for example a cache of food. Within the context of computers and websites, caching is the process of storing files in a temporary storage location, or cache, which can be accessed more quickly and easily. 

Whenever you are on the internet and go to view a website or webpage, everytime you ‘load’ that content, web browsers such as Chrome or Firefox will need to download a lot of data in order to display that content. No-one likes to wait unnecessarily so to shorten this time, browsers will cache most of the page content, therefore saving a copy of the content on your PC’s hard drive.

Should you wish to load the website/web page again in future, as most of the content was saved prior the content will load more quickly. This is very helpful especially for frequently-visited websites. Browsers store the content based on its time to live [TTL] rule; this is an indication how long the content should be cached.

I have made changes to my website but these are not appearing or being applied?

If you’ve worked on your website and made changes, you would normally expect them to appear or be applied in the areas where you made them. For example, if you have published a new staff profile to someone you recently hired.

On occasion you may find you cannot see these changes showing up, even on different website browsers and refreshing your current session, and maybe wondering what is going on.

It’s due to the caching of the website. As changes you made could be new, the browser may not have saved the latest version of the page content. If we go back to the example of a newly published staff profile, that person may not be appearing on the team page due to this change being very recent.

Fortunately you can choose to ‘flush the cache’ should this happen.

How do I flush the cache? Using WP Rocket

If you are logged in, at the top of your screen you will see a black bar with lots of options. One of them is called WP rocket. 

Without being overly technical, WP Rocket is a plugin geared towards caching and other improvements to website performance. This is the tool that can be used if or when the website cache needs to be cleared.

wp_rocket.png

If you hover over that, click on the option for 'clear and preload cache'. The website cache will be cleared. Once a browser cache is cleared, every web page that loads will load as if it is the first time the user has visited the page.

There is no need for you to save anything but you may need to refresh your current browser session. Once done, any changes you made will then appear.

One consideration on the ‘cron’

One final note is that while you can use WP Rocket to flush the cache, it should be mentioned that changes you made will eventually appear on the website naturally. 

This is due to a system process called ‘cron’. Cron is used to schedule various commands/tasks for automatic execution - these commands/tasks are known as cron jobs. Such jobs are executed before any site content is served to any site visitor.

This is an important functionality, but how it affects within this context is that cron will execute these jobs at specific intervals. Cron scheduling allows for the execution of tasks at specified intervals ranging from once a minute to once a year for example.

Below is an example of a cron.

cron.png

The frequency of the interval 'refresh rate' might not be the same as when you have made your changes on your website. For example, you publish a new staff profile right now but the cron interval may be set to be 3 hours. This would mean there is an overlap of 2 hours where the staff profile may not appear on site [while technically being published]. 

However, depending on the interval rate, after a specific time the changes may actually then display as the cron cycles through its job execution. We cannot be accurate with what the cron interval is exactly.

The above is just for your information and to provide more context. The cron is a background process and you do  not need to interact with it directly.

Despite this, you have WP Rocket which serves as a simple tool that can be used on demand.

Hopefully that gives an overview of what the website cache is and how you can flush this on demand if changes you've made are not appearing on your website.

If you have any questions, please get in touch at: support@practiceweb.co.uk

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